Men's Health (South Africa) - - HEALTH + WELLNESS -

Grant “Twiggy” Baker is a mul­ti­ple WSL World Big Wave surf­ing cham­pion and one of South Africa’s most ac­com­plished all-round wa­ter­men. “Big wave surf­ing is all about con­fi­dence,” says the man from KZN. “Your men­tal con­fi­dence comes di­rectly from your phys­i­cal con­di­tion­ing; if you’re not feel­ing fit and healthy you’re go­ing to have a prob­lem com­mit­ting to a big wave.”

Baker stays in shape and keeps his con­fi­dence sharp by hit­ting the gym three times a week. “For the first time in my life I have a per­sonal trainer,” he ad­mits, ex­plain­ing how in his 20s and 30s he could get away with just surf­ing as train­ing, but to stay at the top of his sport, he’s had to ramp up his cross-train­ing. “If I’m hon­est, I think I’m in bet­ter shape now than ever, purely be­cause I’m putting in the time and the work.”

“My gym train­ing is ob­vi­ously surf­fo­cused, but kind of broad at the same time. With surf­ing your up­per back, shoul­ders and arms get a lot of work – and at gym we fo­cus on other ar­eas, like my chest, core and legs, which doesn’t get the work­out from the surf­ing.”

Baker has had knee surgery and lower back is­sues in the past few years so that also fac­tors into his pro­gramme. “We are also work­ing on those ar­eas and mak­ing sure I’m strong around there so those prob­lems don’t re­cur.”

“When you’re young you tend not too fo­cus too much on what you eat,” Baker says. “But, as you get older and want to keep com­pet­ing at the high­est level, your diet be­comes more and more im­por­tant too.”

Most im­por­tantly though, Baker gets in the wa­ter ev­ery day, in some way or other. “De­pend­ing on con­di­tions, I will ei­ther surf, stand-up pad­dle­board, kite-surf or spearfish,” he says. “Do­ing some­thing in the ocean ev­ery day not only helps main­tain my fit­ness lev­els, but also helps keep me in tune with the ocean.”

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